Tips for Intern Teaching

  • Write a letter to your students letting them know about you, your interests, and why you want to be a teacher. Invite them to write back to you.
  • Write a letter to the parents of your students introducing yourself and talking about your commitment to teaching English to their kids. Invite them to drop in on the class, call you at home, etc.
  • Let yourself learn from your mentor, even if their approach is different from yours. Use the traditional approaches and also develop more innovative ones.
  • Work hard at developing your relationship with your mentor(s). Active listening and careful questioning is essential in the early stages. Try to develop a personal as well as a professional connection. Tell them (and show them) that they can trust you. Never put your mentor down in front of students. If there is a serious problem with your mentor, seek a change in the very first weeks. If a problem develops or continues involve outside people soon!
  • Try to turn negative comments about students by your mentor or other teachers into positives by asking about ways that you as a new teacher might work effectively with this (or similar) students.
  • Introduce yourself to principals and vice principals. Be sure that before student teaching is over they have visited your class and watched you teach. (They are good sources for feedback and recommendations.)
  • It is great to get input from your university supervisor -- I think it best if your university supervisor observes you teach at least twice.
  • Maintain contact with other interns by setting up regular meeting and phone times. Stay active in on-line discussion groups (such as English Teacher Companion Ning), attend conferences and remain involved with others going through what you are going through.
  • Video tape yourself teaching several times and analyze the tapes carefully.
  • Read Harry Wong's book First Day of School -- while I don't think he is a great theorist about good teaching, he does have many specific suggestions for how to set a professional tone from the first day helpful to new teachers.
  • Go back over materials from your methods and education courses. Be alert to the ways that you become "channeled" into the pedagogical practice of your mentor and don't give up experimenting with approaches.
  • Give your students a list of outside reading and viewing that you recommend. (Play it safe.)
  • Move student desks frequently and creatively. It will free up your pedagogy, assert your control over the space of the classroom, link content and process, and help with discipline.
  • If you have discipline problems with particular students seek them out outside of classtime for one-on-one conversation. Ask them how you can help make the class a place that they will enjoy.
  • Once you are several weeks into student teaching, graciously but firmly insist that you need to be developing some of the curriculum, including multicultural approaches, planning lessons independently, etc. Point out that the university evaluation your intern teaching requires that you have been able to show that you can do these things.
  • Take photographs of your students and copy samples of their best work for you to keep. Be sure to have their permission, and perhaps their parents, to do this -- your school or district likely has policies for you to follow in this area, learn about and follow them.
  • Allow for the posibility of staying in touch with your students after you leave the classroom. Have them write an evaluation of you at least twice during intern teaching. You can learn a great deal from your students about how to improve.
  • At WMU you are supposed to fill out your midterm and final self-evaluation of intern teaching before your mentor evaluates you. (You do not have to allow negative evaluations from your mentor to be put in your placement file.)
  • Start your portfolio and resume early. Let people know you will be looking for a position. Study my job advice wiki -- and help me improve it!
  • You should not be doing "extra duties" (especially during your preparation hour); seek help from your supervisor.
  • Attend all professional events such as faculty meetings, committee meetings, teacher parties, etc. Attend professional conferences while you are intern teaching.
  • Be enthusiastic about interning and teaching -- you are making a professional impression from the first day.
  • Speak up for WMU teacher education program. Talking up your program's strengths will make you look good and your degree more valuable. Let mentors know about what is being learned and discussed at the university these days. If mentors challenge your preparation, point to the things you have learned, invite them to read some of the professional books you have read (and join you at a professional conference!), explain your philosophy of teaching as well as you can, and express your willingness to keep learning.
  • Keep your own personal balance. Exercise. Make time for yourself. Find good listeners and process your experiences with them.